Tuesday, April 28, 2009

So. Swine flu arrives in the neighborhood...

Just got word that the kids have an unscheduled two-week vacation. All schools in New Braunfels--that includes New Braunfles ISD, Comal ISD and private schools--are now closed until May 11.
The closings are occurring at the recommendation of the Comal County Medical Authority.
“All of this is being done with an abundance of caution,” said Superintendent Mike Smith. “We will support the recommendation of the county health department.”
Overman gave city, county, medical and emergency-related officials a briefing regarding the one positive and multiple probable cases of swine flu detected throughout the city and county, including both school districts, and all private schools.

At the university, we've been having swine flu prep meetings daily. Everyone's holding their breath, since the last day of classes is Friday. All it takes is one confirmed case to shut down the campus and send everyone home--Texas State is particularly vulnerable, with so many Mexican nationals shopping at the San Marcos outlet malls, and so many university students working there.

Here's hoping these closings stop this thing in its tracks. Is the national media sensationalizing this? Absolutely. But then again, nobody wants a repeat of 1918, so I'll tolerate a little freakout if it gets people to take this thing seriously.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Not in LA

The Nebula Awards banquet is currently unfolding two timezones away from me, on the campus of UCLA. Obviously, I am not in California to participate in this shindig, despite my standing as an SFWA official-type person. Instead, due to financial considerations (and there are always financial considerations when you've got three kids) I'm here at Blaschke World Headquarters dealing with the official media release announcing the Nebula Award winners. The release which I sent out roughly 45 minutes ago, with an embargo slapped on it for 11:45 p.m. PDT. For the non-journalists out there, that means the material is provided to media outlets in advance as a courtesy, and that it is absolutely not to be published until after 11:45 p.m. on the west coast of the United States. Which is where the awards ceremony is happening, so that word of the winners doesn't filter through the crowd before the actual announcement is made. Clever huh?

In my day job at Texas State University, I've had several occasions where an embargoed release was a necessity. I hate them, because some foolish person somewhere goes ahead and publishes the material ahead of time and thus breaks the embargo. In such cases, my wrath is swift and terrible, being the crochety journalist that I am.

I am VERY wrathful right now. Read into that what you will.

Now Playing: Violent Femmes Why Do Birds Sing?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Night Videos

Well friends, I don't know how long I'll be able to keep the Friday Night Videos feature going here. Four consecutive songs I hunted up on YouTube had either been deleted or "Embedding disabled by request." Sigh. At least Queen gets it. YouTube serves the same purpose as MTV and Friday Night Videos did back in the day--that is, it's a promotional platform for music to encourage more sales. Videos are a 4 minute commercial for a song in particular, and albums in general (and considering the music selection I feature here, Greatest Hits collections). Fortunately, Queen understands that exposure is a good thing, which is why the brilliantly skewed "Fat Bottomed Girls" is the featured song today. Freddie Mercury could preen like some unholy fusion of Mick Jagger and Tim Curry, and rocked like no other. Enjoy!

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Elton John.

Now Playing:

Thursday, April 23, 2009


For those of you blissfully unaware, The Wife has started a photography business, Lisa on Location. This explains, in a small way, my obsession with photography the past couple of years--I'm trying to keep up with her so as not to prove a family embarrassment. Of course, the derisive "Lensboy" moniker she's bestowed upon me don't help that situation too much.

Anyhoo, weddings, bridals and engagement sessions are to make up a significant percentage of her business, according to the business plan. Into this mix, she is also offering bridal boudoir, a sensual style that's grown in popularity in recent years. As a quick Google search reveals some consider any use of the word "boudoir" to be synonymous with "nekkid pictures" it became obvious we needed to build up the portfolio to show exactly the type of photography being offered by Lisa on Location. So, after more than six weeks of planning, scheduling conflicts and assorted other shenanigans, we got together with a number of models over the weekend and had ourselves a grand old shoot. When I wasn't working logistics or adjusting the lighting, I managed to pick up my own camera a few times and squeeze off some shots. A few were even halfways decent. Here's a couple:



That we got anything usable at all is a minor miracle. At one point, every single model who'd committed to the shoot backed out, leaving me scrambling to find replacements. The makeup artist who'd committed never showed, despite assuring us that day she was actually on her way. The first model scheduled showed up two hours late, after we'd already begun working with the one scheduled to come after her, and thereby managed to muck up the entire schedule. Instead of one model at a time, we were juggling no less than two constantly. Add in the models' respective escorts, and you can imagine how crowded things got.

On the technical side, since we only have one external flash for the cameras--my 430EX Speedlite--The Wife used it exclusively to trigger the optically-slaved umbrella strobes, leaving me relegated to using the fast 50mm lens and available light. Limited as I was, I'm happy with the shots I got. I just wish I'd had the opportunity to be involved more thorougly. On the bright side, The Wife used the new Tamron 28-75mm lens we'd gotten for her camera, and it performed admirably.

But before the next big shoot we have, I'm getting her an external flash of her own!

Now Playing: Eric Clapton Unplugged

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hays County Courthouse

Broke out the 72nm filter and grabbed some false-color infrared shots of the Hays County Courthouse during my lunch break. Still not entirely happy with my color conversions, but I'm getting better...



Now Playing: Pink Floyd Staying Home to Watch the Rain

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

50mm Mark 1

I have a new lens! The 50mm prime lens is probably the most basic lens for any SLR platform (ie Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, etc.). Generally "fast" lenses that excel in low-light conditions, they're relative simple and traditionally have good optics. We have one, a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, that is more than 15 years old. The Wife bought it when she first got into photojournalism and it has stood the test of time. It's a good lens. I used it to good effect at a photo shoot over the weekend, which I'll share with you at a later date.

But the 50mm II that Canon sells these days has shortcomings. In an effort to make an extremely cheap entry-level lens, Canon redesigned the 50mm f/1.8 (hereinafter known as the Mark I), which was one of the very first EF lenses Canon ever marketed. The Mk I was a traditional lens, with a distance scale window, manual focus grip and a metal camera mount. The Mk II used the same high-quality glass, but did away with the distance scale and manual focusing ring, and made the body entirely out of plastic. This brought the price down to the $75-80 range (earning the nickname "Nifty Fifty"), but made the lens pretty much a bargain-basement autofocus affair (users could still opt to manually focus, but this involved rotating a knurled endpiece that isn't very convenient or user-friendly).

Now, I enjoy experimenting with infrared photography, and Mk II is adaptable to this, with no hot spots showing up in images. The fast 1.8 aperture means that I can cut down exposure times significantly (15 second exposures are the norm with my slower lenses). Yet with infrared, you have to re-focus to account for the longer IR wavelength, and the missing distance scale on the Mk II means there is also no IR focal mark. And it's a pain to manual focus the Mk II. BUT the Mk I has that distance scale, an IR focal mark and is easily focused manually. So my course of action was clear: I must have one of these 20-plus year old lenses.

Thank you Ebay! I won an auction for one of these on Friday from a guy in Vermont. I paid that evening and the lens arrived in the main on Monday. Talk about fast shipping! The body is in excellent shape. There's one small scuff on the front collar maybe 2mm across. That's it. The glass is pristine, not even a fleck of dust inside (which is more than can be said for our Nifty):


Build quality is indeed far superior to the Nifty. This lens just feels more substantial in your hand. The manual focus grip turns freely when in autofocus mode, and gives a suitably nice traction when in manual focus mode. I love the distance scale--which is why I bought this one even though I've already got the Nifty. I enjoy infrared photography, and this lens lends itself to that nicely with the distance scale, IR focal mark, nice manual focus grip.

Other than that, it is indeed the Nifty in nicer packaging. The optics are identical but so is the autofocus. Buzzy and temperamental in low light, it's no worse nor no better than the Mk II. But at least manual focusing is a viable option with this one. Here are some test shots I snapped yesterday in the back yard.

The Bug:


Coral honeysuckle:

Grape flower buds:


Passion flower:

Now all I have to do is order a 52mm infrared filter and I'm all set...

Now Playing: Various Classical Masterpieces, Vol. 1

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cancer update

Spoke to my father today. He sounded weak, tired and old. According to him, the removed 2/3 of his right lung. The tumor is almost certainly cancerous, but it'll be Tuesday before the test results reveal whether the malignancy had spread to the lymph nodes or not.

Ironically, the heart attack he suffered the other month is the only reason the tumor was discovered. They ran a bunch of CT scans on him to get a handle on what was going on with his heart, and that's how the cancer was spotted.

He seemed baffled as to how he could have lung cancer. He was never a heavy smoker, but he's been around smokers all his life and been subjected to more than his share of secondhand smoke. He also used to puff on cigars, but it's probably been 25 years since his last one. It all adds up, I suppose.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Spectacularly shitty day

The squeamish may want to avert their eyes. I'm just saying.

This is a tale of woe. I wallow in self-pity. I'm not seeking sympathy. This is more of a primal scream. Or something like that. I've never viewed psychoanalysis with anything less than a cynical eye, after all.

Woke up this with a fever blister forming on my lip. Which sucks under normal circumstances, but this one snuck up on me because it didn't come with the traditional tingly feeling of pressure which warns me that I need to apply the Abreva. Which I did liberally apply once I realized what was happening, only to quickly discover that this was one of those outbreaks that Abreva only arrests for a brief period and that once the drug is fully absorbed the blister begins growing again instead of being stopped in its tracks. I really, really hate fever blisters, and to compound the indignity, I know the specific woman I contracted this affliction from during my college years. Had I received a proper sex education growing up, I'd have know that fever blisters are a communicable viral disease rather than something people happen to manifest whenever they have fevers. Duh. Too late now, huh? Shit.

I despise Texas Governor Rick Perry with every fiber of my being. He's scared shitless of Kay Bailey Hutchison whomping his pandering ass in the Republican primary next year, so he's whipping up the wingnut conspiracy fringe with talk of secession in hopes of winning another trainwreck term as governor. Call me crazy, but talk of secession (even Perry's chickenshit version whereby he doesn't actually advocate it, but implies that he does) strikes me as un-American and borderline treasonous. Besides, I seem to recall a war or something 150-someodd years ago that settled this question definitively. Not that Perry's shit-headedness has any direct relation to my bad day, but I'm in an ornery mood and he's a convenient target. Just so you know.

So. The Bug contracted ringworm a while back from the kitten Santa left for the kids at Christmas. He had a nasty patch on his scalp, which we had a exhausting 6-week treatment regime to cure him of this fungal affliction. He's got a bald spot on the top of his head that makes him look like Friar Tuck. We'd thought it cured, but The Wife noticed the bald spot had grown reddish of late, and we feared a re-infection. She was going to call the doctor to get an opinion over the phone this morning. No biggie. So I'm almost in to work (I have a 25-minute commute) when my cell phone rings. The doctor's office wants him to come in that morning. There's an opening at 8:30. So I turn around and drive home. The Wife takes him in. The receptionist at the doctor's office acts shocked The Wife and Bug are there at 8:30, since they have them down for a 10:30 a.m. appointment. Let me say right here that this is NOT the first time the doctor's office has botched an appointment time. The doctor eventually sees them, and suspects a bacterial infection has taken advantage of the situation. An antibiotic is prescribed. Yay. The Wife heads over to the pharmacy. Said prescription has not been called in. After an hour of waiting, she gives up and comes home. I turn the guardianship of the daycare kids over to her, and get in my car to drive to work. It's approaching the lunch hour.

A large storm system has parked itself over central Texas this weekend, for those of you out of the area. We've been in an extended and severe drought, so the rain is welcome. For the most part. At the tail end of my commute, about five minutes from work, I experience a flat tire. No problem, I'll just get out and change it. It's not even raining. Well, it's raining a little bit. Hmm, it seems to be raining harder--I'll have to put on my overcoat. Crap, this is something like a downpour--water's sloshing around inside my waterproof hiking boots. This isn't a downpour, it's a freaking monsoon! I have never, ever been so wet in my life. The parts of me that aren't drenched by the frigid rain are soaked through by my steaming sweat. My back aches, my legs hurt and it's unbelievable easy to smash your fingers when all the metal tools are slick and slippery from the rain.

I finally drag my sorry self into work and actually have a productive day. I don't want to be there, but I manage to clear out a backlog of releases. Plus, I win a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 mark I lens on Ebay for $142. I've been after this lens for a while for infrared photography, but have not been successful at winning one for a price I'm willing to pay. This is a deal I'm happy with.

Okay, ray of sunshine interlude over. I come home and after a number of amusing events involving the kids and/or The Wife, I go the the pharmacy to pick up the Bug's prescription. When I get home, we discover it's an antifungal shampoo. The doctor specifically told The Wife the inflammation on his head wasn't a recurrence of the ringworm, that she was prescribing an antibiotic for bacterial infection. WTF? And of course it's Friday evening, so there's no way to get ahold of the doctor until Monday morning to figure out what the hell is going on with this prescription that's 180 degrees opposite of what we were told we were getting.

Right. At this point I quite unexpectedly learn that my estranged father just had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his lung.

Didn't see that one coming, did you? I'm all about the plot twist, see.

This is the same father who had the heart attack a couple of months ago and acted like he wanted to mend fences until he was actually released from the hospital, at which point he suddenly forgot all about it. The same father who, although I don't hate him, still provokes knotted muscles in my shoulder and back and elevated blood pressure in me whenever I hear his name. It doesn't help that this was sprung on me almost in ambush fashion. So now I'm at a loss for a proper course of action. How to navigate that fine line between rewarding bad behavior and clinging to a self-destructive bitterness?

I feel obliged to point out (this being something of an impassioned, ill-advised confessional, after all) that I do not harbor (much) bitterness directly attributable to our own tension-filled relationship. Father/eldest son conflicts are traditional, after all. If it weren't for that, the ancient Greeks would only be known for their comedies. No, my beef comes with the abysmal treatment he's inflicted on my mother, sister, youngest brother (middle brother too, probably, although I'm not privy to such information at this time), my mother-in-law, my daughters... well, pretty much everyone in my life that I care about, he's gone out of his way to be an ass to.

So... that was my day. How was yours?

Now Playing:

Friday Night Videos

It's late, so I won't bore you with my usual ramblings. Suffice to say that I've never been much of an Elton John fan. Most of his work just leaves me cold, but occasionally he puts out something that connects with me. This is one of them. It's got a cool video, too.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Ashley MacIsaac.

Now Playing: Emerson, Lake & Palmer The Return of the Manticore

Monday, April 13, 2009

Marilyn Chambers 1952-2009

The wire services are reporting that Marilyn Chambers has died. Given time, I'm sure her career would've been referenced on Swingtown, but alas, that series was a victim of premature cancellation. Still, such notoriety cannot pass unacknowledged, so I present the following as a fitting tribute to her most famous film.

Now Playing: Earth, Wind & Fire The Eternal Dance

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Night Videos

Ashley MacIsaac may be a unstable loon, but his musical talent is undeniable. His instincts for fusing traditional fiddling with modern riffs and arrangements is spot-on. His version of the chestnut "Sleepy Maggie" is about 57 shades of awesome, and Mary Jane Lamond's Gaelic vocals are the cherry on top. Enjoy.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Poison.

Now Playing: Clandestine The Ale is Dear

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Insects up close

I inherited a manual Nikon 50mm AI-s lens from my late father-in-law, and have used it on my Canon with a reversing ring for a DIY macro lens. Recently, I added a Vivitar 2x telextender (which I got from my brother who wasn't using it) to the assembly, and have been pleased with the results. Yes, that fast 1.8 Nikon lens loses two stops and is much darker and slower with the telextender, but I'm able to get significantly larger magnifications with it. As long as I shoot in bright daylight, I can stop down to f/8 or even f/11 for a decent depth-of-field.


So, yeah, I've been playing with macro again. Took some shots in Columbus over the weekend, and yesterday ventured into the backyard after work. I'm generally pleased with the results. At these magnifications, there's some blur due to camera shake, but it's not terribly visible unless the images are blown up quite large. Once I actually get a real macro lens, with autofocus and perhaps built-in image stablization to control camera shake, I might be able to do some real damage.



Now Playing: Brian Wilson Imagination

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Yes, but can he dance?

Somebody arrived at my blog today by Googling the term "Howard Waldrop funky chicken."

Damn, I love the internets!

Now Playing:

Peter S! Beagle

A few weeks ago, I got an email from some friends up in the DFW area asking if I was going to make it to Scarborough Fair this year for Peter S. Beagle's appearance. Now, I'm a big fan of Scarborough Faire. I used to get season passes for it, and occasionally attended dressed in my Hern the Hunter outfit. I took The Wife there on our first date, as she'd never been to one before. She married me anyway (and no, I've never been in SCA. I'm not that serious about ren faires and such--I just get a kick out of them). But since we've moved to New Braunfels, Scarborough's become a 4-hour-plus drive to attend, which A) means a lot of driving for the kids and/or B) hotel expenses, which we're never all that fond of in the first place. So no, I regretfully said, we'd not be making it despite Peter Beagle's presence.

I checked around and discovered Beagle was making a book tour of Texas, and would be hitting some bookstores in the San Antonio-Austin area before heading up to Scarborough. Unfortunately, we were going to be out of town during his events and would miss him. I've met Beagle several times--even interviewed him at Apollocon in '05 I believe--and have had all sorts of fascinating conversations with him on those occasions, so I was disappointed to miss him. Then, Friday night, The Wife gets and unexpected email inviting us to a friend's house Sunday evening for a small party/reception for Beagle at which he'd also do a reading. Just like that, we were seeing Beagle and not even having to make the drive into San Antonio.

Peter S. Beagle reads "Gordon, the Self-Made Cat" to
Monkey Girl and Fairy Girl April 5 in New Braunfels

We arrive and the kids pile out of the minivan and immediately start playing with the other children there on the swingset/playscape. There's a little party tent set up with Beagle's books available to buy, and another table with wine, cheese, fruit and other goodies. Connor Cochran, Beagle's business manager, looks up and is startled to see me. Most folks assume I live in Austin since those are the writers circles I mostly move in. I move along and greet Beagle, and immediately get drawn in to a great conversation with him on how this is his first extended stay in Texas that doesn't involve airports or convention hotels adjacent to airports, and how his vision of Texas was forever colored by the descriptions of a fellow creative writing student at Stanford by the name of Larry McMurtry. Then Beagle got ready to do his reading.

If you've never heard Beagle read, you're missing out on a great treat. His voice is resonant and velvety smooth. It's not particularly loud, but it carries all the same. There's a even calm to it that packs an emotional power all the same. I make no secret of the fact that if my career ever reaches the point where audiobooks become an issue, I'm going to request that the publisher hire Peter Beagle to do the readings. For this kid-friendly gathering, he chose to read "Gordon, the Self-Made Cat" from his collection The Line Between. It was quite a funny piece about a mouse who defies convention and attends cat school so that he will no longer be a prey animal. It was cute and clever in all the right ways without being cloying. Beagle announced that he was working to expand it--presumably to become a full-fledged children's novel--and both The Wife and I thought it particularly well-suited for a cinematic adaptation, possibly by Jim Henson Productions or a similar studio capable of animated animals and wry humor. We'll see.

My eldest, Monkey Girl, was particularly captivated. She'd met Beagle before and knew him as the guy who wrote The Last Unicorn, but that was pretty much the extend of her interest. In the last year, however, she's become a Reader. In a few short months she progressed from the Junie B. Jones books to Judy Blume to A Series of Unfortunate Events. Late Friday night, right around midnight, she finished off Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, completing the entire Potter series in a five-week span. And she wanted something else to read, preferably a series. Drawing a blank on an appropriate follow up to the boy wizard, and not that big into series books, I suggested both Asimov's Foundation books and McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern. Neither piqued Monkey Girl's interest. But Beagle's reading did. She begged for us to buy her some books, and in the end settled on Tamsin and Beagle's new collection We Never Talk About My Brother. And she got Beagle to autograph them, listening intently as he discussed the origins of the cats in Tamsin. Mr. Beagle, I'm confident in saying, has won himself a fan for life. She read Tamsin all the way home. Later, I found the book in the living room and took it upstairs to her room. Later I found her curled up in her room with The Fantasy Worlds of Peter S. Beagle open. I'd gotten it autographed for her back at that Apollocon.

"What are you reading?" I asked.

"Lila the Werewolf," she answered. "I can't find Tamsin."

"It's on your bed. I found it in the living room earlier."

"It is?" Swoop!

Yeah, I'd say Beagle's got himself a new fan.

Now Playing: The Kinks Everybody's in Show-Biz

Monday, April 06, 2009

Bluebonnet shoot

The Wife had a photo workshop Sunday, a "trash-the-dress" style bridal shoot in a bluebonnet field in Brenham. This is in support of her nascent photography business, Lisa on Location. The general concept behind this kind of photography workshop is that photographers pay a modest participation fee and, after a minimal amount of tips and photographic instruction from the event organizers, are turned loose to flex their picture-taking prowess on a bevy of models assembled for said event. The "trash the dress" aspect involves shooting the bride in informal situations where the dress isn't kept in a necessarily pristine condition. In real life, such "trash the dress" shoots are normally scheduled some time after the wedding, for obvious reasons.

This was a homecoming of sorts for The Wife, since her first job out of college was working for the Brenham Banner-Press. She doesn't hold a wealth of fond memories for the job (although I did learn--much to my surprise after 13 years of marriage--that she is the reporter who broke the story of Blinn College disbanding its national champion track team) which ended after approximately a year when the publisher eliminated her position in order to buy himself a new car. Yeah.

So she and I get up absurdly early to make out way to Brenham, leaving the kids in the care of a grandmother. We arrive as the sun is peeking above the trees, and are heartened somewhat by the fact the fields are more scenic than Google maps had led us to believe (they were bordered on three sides by Wal Mart, Home Depot and La Quinta, you see). There are roughly 15 models total, but it was hard to tell since many listed online as attending didn't show, and some who showed were never listed as participating. On top of this, only four or so women in their early 20s were actually modeling in wedding dresses. There were a number of teens who weren't doing wedding dresses, and the bulk of the models present were younger children available for family and youth bluebonnet shots. The one thing The Wife doesn't have need for at this point is kid portraits--she's already got far more than she can use on her website, and as it can be time-consuming working with children, ultimately that part just wasn't worth the hassle, so she ended up with relatively few kid shots.

The ratio of models to photographers, as stated by the event organizers, was roughly 1:1. But the bulk of these were children, and some of the children were siblings and a package deal. As the event was billed as a bridal shoot, guess what the bulk of the photographers were primarily interested in shooting? Four models in wedding gowns had clusters of photographers swarming them most of the time, stepping over each other and generally trying to stake out a good angle for the shot they wanted. That's not to say that the participating photogs weren't polite or professional. There were some good conversations to be had and most folks were in a good humor throughout the day. But it quickly became apparent that if you weren't aggressive, you wouldn't get your shots. The models responded to the loudest commands, and any photog meekly waiting their turn would get trumped by the next person with a camera that asserted themselves. Judging from the number of wedding dresses that were waiting to be worn in the dressing area, along with the number of adult models listed as attending but nowhere to be seen, it's hard to blame the organizers. I've dealt with scheduling models a fair bit in recent months, and "flakes"--that is, cancellations or no-shows--run about 50 percent. Apparently there are a lot of people who like to play at being models, but when it comes time to actually roll out of bed at 7 a.m., they'd rather just hit the snooze button.

I, by the way, wasn't shooting. The Wife had registered for the workshop, not I. Instead, I was relegated to the role of "Lensboy," packing the equipment, holding the reflector, offering suggestions and anything else that needed doing. As I'm holding the reflector to soften the shadows on one model's face, I commented to The Wife that it was interesting we had bright morning sunlight when the weather forecast had indicated it'd be overcast that day. Cue gale-force winds and heavy cloud cover. Temperatures dropped about 10 degrees, and what had started out as a balmy, breezy day quickly turned chill. The clouds acted a great light diffusers, but The Wife wanted a warmer look to the shots, so I held the gold reflector up as she bounced the on-camera flash off it. The effect was muted but perceptible. Of immediate concern to myself was the inclination of the huge reflector panel I was holding to whip off into the sky, kite-like, never to be seen again. The models had it worse, though. Those with long hair--ie most of them--fought a losing battle to keep it out of their faces. And pretty much all of them were wearing short, summer weather outfits that offered little protection against the chill weather. A few models simply packed it in once wind picked up and temperatures dropped. I can't say I blame them. Then, after an hour or so, the clouds abruptly rolled away and the brilliant sun came out again to screw up everyone's white balance. It didn't get any warmer, though.

It was interesting to observe the other photographers, as I was able to do since I wasn't shooting. The majority of photogs were shooting Canon, with Nikon, not surprisingly, making up the rest. I didn't see a singly Olympus, Pentax or Sony, which surprised me a little. Those other brands are distant also-rans behind the Big Two in terms of market share, but I know there are lots of photographers who use them to great effect in their photography. Just none who attended this workshop, apparently. I observed an array of Canon's top-of-the-line L series lenses in action, a smattering of mid-grade consumer glass and some basic kit lenses. One Canon shooter had a big Sigma telephoto zoom she was using. When I asked her about it, she got defensive, saying she couldn't afford the equivalent Canon lens and moved off before I could say anything else. I've been looking at Sigma's massive 150-500mm super zoom telephoto lens, mainly because there's noting else comparable to it and the price makes it attractive. I wanted to talk with the Sigma owner about her experiences with image quality and autofocus with her telephoto zoom, but obviously never got a chance. Rats.

Ultimately, we shot for two and a half hours, and The Wife got scads of good bridal portraits, a few glamour-style shots, some excellent senior portrait-style shots and a handful of kid shots taken when none of the older models were available. All in all, it was an interesting experience, and an educational one. We'd never participated in anything like this, and likely won't ever do a bridal again, although it could be fun for other specific themes (I know a few months back there was a pirate-themed shoot in Galveston on the tall ship Elissa). My biggest regret is that I didn't get to shoot any myself, but such is the lot of Lensboy.

Now Playing: Various artists Celtic Moods

Friday, April 03, 2009

Friday Night Videos

I never much cared for Poison. Of all the 80s hair bands, they struck me as more style than substance, playing at being hard rockers more than they actually were simply because they lacked the imagination to do anything else. Certainly, much of their music and lyrics were on the simplistic side. Thus it's all the more baffling why I found their album "Open Up and Say... Ahh!" so entertaining. Perhaps most surprising is the fact that I actually prefer their cover of Loggins & Messina's "Your Mama Don't Dance" to the original. Amazing.

The video's pretty run-of-the-mill, though. Can't have everything.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Supertramp.

Now Playing:

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Mind Meld

For some unfathomable reason, the folks over at SF Signal asked me to participate in their Mind Meld feature again. It's almost like they didn't learn their lesson last time. This week's subject matter is the series finale to Battlestar Galactica. What did yours truly think about it?
Magic happened. And not the good kind that flows from the pen of a writer on a roll. The sloppy kind that leads to Ships of Light and Robbie Rist in Lennon specs shepherding the survivors of humanity into a soft white future filled with hi-key lighting. Only we didn't get Ships of Light in Daybreak part 1, 2 or 3. Heck, we didn't even get Robbie Rist (and seriously, how much could he have cost?).

And there's more where that came from. Oh, and be sure to read Chris Roberson's evisceration of the series. It's what I'd have written were I more capable of good word-using.

Now Playing: Aerosmith Pandora's Box